Economic Development Council Vice-Chair Doug Olsen called it a milestone day.
And it was, as the first round of grants from the Transient Lodging Tax were approved for tourism related facilities.
As per the Economic Development Council’s recommendation, the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners approved the funding of nine projects, which were ranked by the Tourism Advisory Committee.
The following projects were approved for the following amount:
1. Kilchis Point Bathrooms $80,000
2. Port of Garibaldi Visitor Booth $49,828
3. Manzanita Visitor Center $20,800.00
4. Bay City Arts Center Parking $19,500
5. NCRD Auditorium Seats $70,000
6. Cape Kiwanda Master Plan $95,000
7. Latimer Quilt Center Building Repair $35,000
8. Rockaway Beach Nature Reserve Plan $20,400
9. City Garibaldi Meeting Space $60,000
Within the next week, checks will be sent out and roughly $450,000 will start making its way back into the communities of Tillamook County.
A request of $29,800 for Tillamook Association of the Performing Arts to create ADA accessible restrooms, and a request of $57,000 to start a Port of Garibaldi Hertiage Plan were not funded.
An additional project was chosen by the Board of Commissioners to receive funding because Commissioner Tim Josi called it a “crisis of epic proportion.”
Ranked as the12th priority project by the TAC and EDC, the Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor or dedicating $50,000 to the Nestucca Fire Beach Access Improvement.
“I know we saw the situation in Pacific City this summer demonstrated they are reaching an impasse in being able to move traffic,” Josi said via phone during the Board’s meeting on Sept. 23.
The original application request $195, 000 as part of a $732,328 project to widen the Cape Kiwanda Beach Access to two lanes.
“The main reason the fire department is interested in this is it’s a huge issue for us dealing with the safety on the people on the beach,” Nestucca Fire and Rescue Chief Kris Weiland said during the TAC presentations back in August. “I’ve had to close the beach access…they look at you and say, ‘I’m not ever coming back again.’ We don’t want that. What we want is them to have a positive experience.”
“This is a strongly supported project by the Pacific City Community,” Jeff Schons of Nestucca Ridge Family of Companies said in August. “I think of it as the introduction to Tillamook County for many visitors. Congestion [in] that spot has caused a lot of frustration and anxiety.”
Josi wished to move the project ahead for the first round so that planning and permitted could get underway.
Commissioner Bill Baertlein voted in favor of dedicating $50,000 to the additional project.
“I want to honor our voters in South County,” Baertlein told the audience.
But he also stated his own issues with the grant process.
“When I look at the projects, I see no cohesive strategy or strategic plan for spending the funds,” Baertlein said. “We have taken a shotgun approach to getting our infrastructure updated so that we can provide our guests a clean and safe place to enjoy our area.
“We need a scoped approach to really fix the problems and our grant process does not lend itself to fulfilling this need. In addition, when I look at the grants, such as the TAPA grant for new ADA bathrooms I wonder if maybe, rather than a band aide, they should be asking for a new performing arts center and parking structure in the core of downtown Tillamook. A structure that other businesses could build around, revitalizing the central part of the County. Under our current process it could never happen. They could not afford to prepare a grant application with a design and cost estimates.”
Baetlein suggested that the TLT should be a department of the County, rather than a branch of EDC.
“There has been nothing in the implementation of the TLT that has changed my opinion that this needs to be a Tillamook County Department,” Baertlein said. “ I believe that this should happen on July 1, 2016…My greatest fear is that this Bureaucratic and contentious nightmare we have created will get institutionalized and impossible to change.”
Commissioner Mark Labhart voted against funding the Nestucca Fire Beach Access Improvement project in the first round of grants.
“If the beach access project is in fact an important project to be partially funded by the TLT, then the application should be refined for the second round to address the issues raised and let it compete with the other two projects that did not get funding and any new projects that may be proposed in the next round of funding beginning in less than two weeks,” Labhart said.
“Let’s not change the due diligence recommendation from the TAC and the EDC. Yes, the Board of Commissioners can change the recommendation of the TAC and EDC. But as I said earlier, I’m only going to change my mind for TLT first round funding if I saw something that was out of line from what we asked the TAC and the EDC to do in an open and public process. We need to follow our process and I support the recommendation of the TAC and the EDC.
“Let’s get the Beach access fixed next summer and let’s get some of the other worthy projects done too by working together without circumventing our own processes.”
Six applications submitted for tourism marketing and promotions grants
Lucky Bear Soap of Tillamook, Three Arch Inn of Oceanside, Scovel Racing, Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce, Twin Rocks Friends Camp, and Association of Northwest Steelheaders have all applied for the first phase of tourism marketing and promotions grants.
The tourism marketing and promotions grants were available to non-profit and for-profit businesses.
All applicants passed county legal counsel.
According to Visit Tillamook Coast Director Nan Devlin, the six applications will be reviewed and scored by the TAC and then ranked at their next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Rankings will then be presented at the Economic Development Council on Oct. 20 for funding approval.
“The total request for all six applicants is just over $30,000,” Devlin said. “Phase one of this grant made available $50,000, so the approximately $20,000 not requested in this phase will roll over into Phase Two. That will make $70,000 available for marketing and promotions grants in the next round.”